The First Lady–May’s Clematis of the Month

TheFirstLady

So many of the large-flowered clematis in my garden are blooming extremely early this year, as much as six – eight weeks ahead of schedule.  But whenever they choose to bloom, they look wonderful!

During my frequent strolls through the garden, I enjoy observing clematis in all their various stages–and, yes, sometimes I even talk to them.  This spring, Clematis ‘The First Lady’ talked back loudly, showing herself off to great advantage.  I purchased this clematis two or three years ago as Clematis ‘Rhapsody’, a clematis for which I had been hankering for some time.  Once I saw the first meager bloom, I knew I had purchased a misnamed plant.  But not until this year, when the poor clematis had built up enough strength to drag itself up out of the heavy shade of a big Fatshedera into the sunshine, did I really see what a gorgeous flower my mistake clematis produced–large lavender blooms (one flower actually measured 9 inches in diameter!), with contrasting burgundy stamens, ruffled edges, and textual ridges in the middle of each pointed petal.  Elegantissimo!  I was able to identify it as Clematis ‘The First Lady’ and seriously considered deeming this tough and beautiful plant Clematis of the Month for this month.

The First Lady3

Serendipitously, yesterday my yoga teacher described to me a clematis a friend gave her as a cut flower.  She has a fine eye for detail, so I was able to identify her unseen clematis from her description as Clematis ‘The First Lady.’  I showed her a photo on my smart phone to be sure and impressed both her and myself with my quick ID.  That clinched it–Clematis ‘The First Lady’ is Clematis of the Month for May in my garden this year!

 

TheFirstLady2

Clematis ‘The First Lady’ is an American clematis introduced into commerce by Arthur Steffen in Long Island, New York, in 1989.  Mr. Steffen’s company is also responsible for introducing, in 1932, another gorgeous and famous American clematis, now grown throughout the world, Clematis Betty Corning.  The beauty of the name of May’s Clematis of the Month is that you can choose your own favorite First Lady to be represented by this clematis.  I know who mine is!

Below is a smattering of the many other worthy candidates blooming in my garden this month.

LouiseRowe

The satiny blooms of Clematis Louise Rowe

Rebecca

Clematis Rebecca

ClematisRamona&Marta

Clematis Ramona (lavender) with Clematis Marta

Josephine

The ever-stunning Clematis Josephine

Cezanne

Clematis Cezanne

Fireworks

Clematis Fireworks

Utopia

Clematis Utopia

ClematisFugiMusume

Clematis Fujimusume–such a gorgeous blue!

MorningMist

Clematis Morning Mist–one of these blossoms measured 10 inches!

 

Climador

Clematis Climador (also known as Clematis Königskind)

 

Caroline&ViviennePennel

Clematis Caroline (pink) with Clematis Vyvyan Pennell

 

ClematisLordHershall

Clematis Lord Herschell

 

 

Sonnette

The bells of Clematis Sonnette (also known as Clematis Peveril Peach)

CrystalFountain(FairyBlue)

Clematis Crystal Fountain (also known as Clematis Fairy Blue)

Clematis of the Month–June

Clematis Etoile Violette and Clematis Betty Corning in my Plum Tree

Clematis Etoile Violette and Clematis Betty Corning in my Plum Tree

The best clematis in my garden for the month of June is, hands down, a beautiful pairing–Clematis Etoile Violette and Clematis Betty Corning cavorting together in my plum tree.  The rich dark purple open blooms are Clematis Etoile Violette.  Clematis Betty Corning is the pale bell, which is delightfully fragrant to boot.

Today I head off to Germany for the annual conference of the International Clematis Society.  I’ll be seeing scads of beautiful clematis and hope to post from there, so be on the lookout for clematis news from Germany.

Below are a few more of the lovely clematis blooming in my garden today.

Dainty Clematis Odoriba

Dainty Clematis Odoriba

Dark and sultry Clematis Negrityanka

Dark and sultry Clematis Negrityanka

Clematis Caroline

Clematis Caroline

The floriferous and ever-beautiful Clematis Madame Julia Correvon

The floriferous and ever-beautiful Clematis Madame Julia Correvon

Clematis Bijou as a groundcover

Clematis Bijou as a groundcover

Clemitis Kiri Te Kanawa -- only planted about two months ago!

Clemitis Kiri Te Kanawa — only planted about two months ago!

Clematis Josephine, still going strong

Clematis Josephine, still going strong

First bloom on my new Clematis Crispa

First bloom on my new Clematis Crispa

Clematis Beauty of Worcester

Clematis Beauty of Worcester

Bloomin’ June!

 Drip System, at Last!

Each clematis has its very own emitter!

Each clematis has its very own emitter!

Life is good. My friend Sean helped me (uh, well, actually, I carefully watched him) put in a drip system for my clems and all my pots. I am in heaven. With the dry spell we’ve been having, I have NOT had to spend hours (sometimes DAYS) watering. YayHA! Thank you, Sean. He showed me how to tweak the system myself, and I plan to make some tweaks this weekend. Hmmm, we’ll see how that goes.

Soon I’m Off to the International Clematis Conference in Germany

Where are the clems? (2011 Belgium Conference)

Where are the clems?
(2011 Belgium Conference)

Yes, it’s true. There actually is an annual international conference where clematis enthusiasts from all over the world gather together to immerse themselves in clematis for a whole week. Later this month I will be heading to southern Germany to attend my third conference (the other two were in Portland, Oregon, and Belgium). Now, I know you are probably imagining us sitting around in a stuffy conference room listening to erudite lectures about obscure clematis. Oh, no, each day all 60 or 70 of us visit two to four gardens and nurseries together–punctuated with rest stops for delicious food and drink, amid comraderie in a multitude of languages.  But just imagine our consternation when, once in a while, we visit a garden with no clematis! Though we are able to enjoy the garden anyway, we are mystified that a gardener could actually neglect to weave at least one clematis into the garden design. We might even find a little time for one of those erudite clematis lectures, too. I plan to take lots of photos and hope to post from Germany, so keep a lookout (I’ll be in Europe from June 27 – July 11).

Bloomin’ June

My garden is in transition now between last of the large-flowered May-June bloomers and the beginning of the later-blooming clematis. Every day I find another clematis in bloom — what an exciting time! Here are just a few of my beauties:

Clematis Caroline, just starting her show.

Clematis Caroline, just starting her show.

Sweet Little Clematis Hakuji

Sweet Little Clematis Hakuji

Clematis Vyvyan Pennell (first bloom ever after four years of wilt!)

Clematis Ekstra

Clematis Ekstra

First Blossom of Clematis Etoile Violette (must be 5" wide!)

First Blossom of Clematis Etoile Violette (must be 5″ wide!)

Clematis Fair Rosamond, winding down

Clematis Fair Rosamond, winding down

Clematis Fugimusume

Clematis Fugimusume

First ever bloom on my new Clematis florida

First ever bloom on my new Clematis florida

Clematis Josephine, still going and going

Clematis Josephine, still going and going

Clematis The First Lady (she'd look lovely with the dark purple  Clematis The President )

Clematis The First Lady (she’d look lovely with the dark purple Clematis The President )

Clematis Margot Koster

Clematis Margot Koster

  

First of Many for my Recently Moved Clematis Pagoda

First of Many for my Recently Moved Clematis Pagoda

Clematis Proteus

Lounger (non-climber) Clematis recta purpurea

Lounger (non-climber) Clematis recta purpurea

Clematis Sonnette--adorable!

Clematis Sonnette–adorable!

Clematis Blooming in November

Believe it or not,  several Clematis are blooming in my November garden.  Sweet Autumn Clematis and Madame Baron Veillard (mentioned in a previous post) are still blooming, though they are both beginning to wind down.  My lovely yellow-belled Clematis otophora (see last post) is also still showing off  its eye-catching blooms.  What a beautiful clematis!

C. ‘Cezanne’

I have a few summer-blooming clematis throwing a late bloom or two.  Among those are Clematis ‘Cezanne’, with a soft mauve-blue flower.  This is one of Raymond Evison’s patio clematis, bred to grow to only 4-6′ tall, be very floriferous, and have a long bloom-time.  C. ‘Cezanne’ blooms in a large window box for me and has several flushes of bloom throughout the summer.  I think this one will be the last for this year.

C. ‘Caroline’

Clematis Caroline is a June bloomer with soft pink flowers.  If you cut these June bloomers back by about 1/3 after their first heavy bloom, many of them (not all) will repeat bloom in the late summer or fall, though usually with smaller flowers.  I cut C. Caroline back about a third in early July and was rewarded with another flush in September.  This bloom is particularly late. 

C. ‘Duchess of Edinburgh’

A double June bloomer, Clematis Duchess of Edinburgh, is also giving me a show in November.  Like C. Caroline, I cut the Duchess back a third in early July and now it’s got two smaller single blooms and two buds.  I hope the buds make it through the cold spell we are expecting (maybe down to the mid thirties tonight — brrrrr). 

I want to show you two more clematis (see photos below).   My young (first year) Clematis Jackmanii on the left has been blooming steadily since early July and still has this one bloom left.  I don’t think I have ever had such a young clematis bloom so heartily in its first year.  But this is the famous C. Jackmanii, the first large-flowered hybrid clematis, which came into being in the late 1850s.  It’s proven itself over time and is, I believe, the most popular clematis ever.  The second clematis below is a new potted C. florida sieboldii.  I like my first one so much that when I saw another recently in a nursery, I snapped it up — and this one is still blooming.

C. florida sieboldii

I was hoping to be able to show you flowers on my November/December bloomers, Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’ and Clematis Cirrhosa ‘Jingle Bells’, but not to be.   They may well be in bloom next month, though, so stay tuned.

Activities I will be engaged in soon (in addition to trying to get 10 more clematis in the ground)  are gathering seeds and cutting a few of the July-August bloomers back hard.

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